Monday, February 15, 2010

Being there, being ready -- the chaplain in the face of grief

One really rewarding kind of moment as a teacher is when your students get to where you want them to go before you even prompt them to get there. Today, with my chaplaincy education students, I reviewed models for "stages of grief," including Kubler-Ross' famous five stages. The main thing I hoped they would take away from it is that -- while these kind of stage models (a number of which we had on the board above) can help you understand what a person might be going through -- one should never try and force a person into one of the stages in a misguided attempt to help them complete their journey through grief. And they really seemed to get that. I was so proud of them!

One student said that it is important to just "be there," while another talked about being "ready" to recognize when a person might be ready to talk about a painful event, or their grief around an experience. I put that together in the headline of this blog post -- the best way to minister to people around grief is to just "be there and be ready." Theoretical knowledge like these grief stage frameworks can help us have the awareness needed to recognize when a person in "ready" for a particular kind of care.

One thing we read for today's class was the New Yorker's recent article on grieving by Meghan O’Rourke. It's a really good overview of American attitudes towards death and grief in the 20th and 21st centuries. I recommend it!
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